Recommended: Editor's Toolkit Plus

About four years ago, when I was living entirely off my freelance editorial income (which is to say, when I was living off my savings), I spent a month or two trying to keep up with the discussions at Copyediting-L. And while regularly reading this very busy listserv may cause insanity, I do still recommend taking it in small doses, if you’re at all interested in editing. Because no matter how good you think you are at English grammar, reading just a day’s worth of wrangling on CE-L will impress upon you how vast is the portion of that realm that you don’t know. Flexibility is important in copyediting and proofreading, and once you see how even a group of longtime professional editors can disagree on what may seem like the most fundamental “rules” to you, you’re more likely to remember to wield your pencil lightly when changing all those whiches to thats.

I no longer follow CE-L, because I have actual work to do nowadays, but it was while skimming that list that I kept coming across mentions of a site called Probably people were discussing Word macros, or how to use the Track Changes feature, or something like that. Editorium has an excellent newsletter that gets into all the nitty gritty bits of MS Word that people who work on manuscripts need to know—how to keep the spelling checker from skipping certain words that are correctly spelled but often misused, for instance, or how to delete unused style sheets. If you use Word, you should subscribe; it’s great.

But when I visited the site, I found that the real mindblowing thing at is the software—complex collections of well thought-out and documented Word macros and scripts. It’s these I can’t live without, specifically a package called Editor’s Toolkit Plus. Whenever I have to reinstall Word on my computer, the second thing I do—after turning off practically everything under the Tools->AutoCorrect menu—is install Editor’s Toolkit. Whenever I go to a new day job, I plead until we buy a license. Because without ETK, Word to me seems broken.

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